Welcome. We are students in Communications 218, a journalism class at Lehman College. Our classroom is in Room 122. This course is part of the Summer Arts Festival of College Now, a program designed to help high school students earn college credits. Every day, we report and write articles about our program, the school and the neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Touch of Professionalism

By: Jean Kapkanoff

Partitions divide Prudential Kafcos Realty, a real estate agency in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx, into a handful of sections comprised mainly of cubicles, all of which are identical, but which also bear the personal touch of each individual agent. Some are adorned with colorful pictures of family members and celebrities, others with the agents’ own artwork. Near the end of the path that leads to the agency’s back room stands a cubicle festooned with notes, signs, folders and paperwork and crowned with a few family pictures that belong to Phyllis Basilone.

Life-long Bronx resident Basilone, 57, has been Prudential Kafcos’s top producing agent for nearly the entire eight years she’s been working there, according to the agency’s broker, Greg Kafcos. Basilone’s clients and co-workers attribute her success to her determination, professionalism, and enthusiasm for her profession. The most significant factor in her success as a real estate agent, however, is perhaps her life-long interest and involvement in the business world.

Originally from the Morris Park section of the Bronx, Basilone was raised in what she describes as a “very Italian family,” where strong emphasis was placed on tradition, morals and values. Since her father’s entire family followed careers in business, Basilone herself developed an interest in business early in life. After finishing high school, she worked several office jobs, but soon found that the office was not the place for her.

“I hated that nine-to-five thing,” declares the tall, slender woman, who is easily identifiable by her fiery red-colored hair. “I knew I always wanted to work with people. I didn’t want to be a secretary or anything; I didn’t like office work.”

So when the owner of a boutique on Westchester Square called The Barn, at which Basilone was a frequent shopper, began looking for a partner to help run the business, she was given the opportunity to fulfill her dream. When the boutique’s owner, whom she remembers only as Felicia, decided to move to Pennsylvania, Basilone took ownership of the store. In addition to learning about the business world and making money, she found that she truly enjoyed what she was doing.

“I loved it. I had a great time,” she says.

After eventually selling The Barn, Basilone worked part-time at a men’s clothing store down the street from The Barn before devoting her time to raising her children, John and Jenna. Upon her daughter’s entrance into high school, Basilone’s love for working with people led her to the real estate business.

Basilone explains that while houses and interior design had always interested her, real estate also allowed her a flexible schedule that she could work around her top priority: her children.

“I needed to be there for my daughter,” she says. “That was the most important thing, that I could still be there for her and make my own hours here.”

Basilone’s background in business has served her particularly well as a real estate agent – her professional attitude, outgoing personality and hard work have made her Prudential Kafcos Realty’s top producing agent. She has received numerous prizes for her work, including the Chairman’s Circle Award – an award given to top producing agents throughout the Prudential network – four years in a row.

“She’s one of the best real estate agents that I know,” says Dawn Kafcos, who works alongside her brother Greg at Prudential Kafcos. “Customer feedback is phenomenal.”

“She’s got what you’d call the gift of gab,” says a fellow agent at Prudential, who cites Basilone’s outgoing and talkative nature as one of the keys to her success.

According to Basilone, what makes someone a successful real estate agent comes largely from within oneself. One must be able to understand a client’s needs, avoid being “pushy,” and keep clients focused on a price range they can afford when looking to buy a house.

“Buying a house is a tremendous investment, and it’s a traumatic experience for people,” she explains, “so you want to make it a happy [experience] for them.”

Mainly, however, the real estate business requires patience, honesty, common sense, and most of all, good listening skills.
“Listen to them,” she says. “Listen to what their needs are. It’s made me do well in this business.”

Aside from her involvement in the real estate business and her commitment to her family, Basilone maintains an interest in crafts such as cooking, cross stitching, and stenciling. However, she states: “Do I have time to do it now? No. This job can command a lot of your time.”

Real estate, however, will be her final career endeavor. Basilone says that after her daughter finishes college, she plans to obtain her real estate license in Florida, where her son lives. From then on, she wants to go back and forth between the two states, selling real estate.

“No,” she says, “I wouldn’t go onto another career. That’s it, I’m done, I’m finished. This is it.”

Mother of Twenty-two

By: Malisa Dutson

Running a daycare can be very difficult thing. There's noise, mess, children that cant, or just choose not to listen and the best time of the day happens to be nap time. But one woman who has always loved kids thinks differently.

"I always enjoyed the company of children," said Tiffany Anderson, owner of a child care facility in Brooklyn called Sunshine Daycare.

Anderson, 45, has owned a daycare for 16 years. She says that her love of children will keep her running this daycare until the day she dies.

"Ever since I was six years old I wanted to own a daycare," Anderson said. As a child, she would always have a baby doll under her arm. She would set up all he dolls and create a doll daycare and always said that one day those dolls would be people.

Anderson has always felt close to children, even as an adult. Most people create daycares in places separate from their own homes for privacy reasons. But with Anderson it was different. I wanted to create a daycare in an environment I was comfortable in so I could become comfortable with the children Anderson said. So she created her daycare within her own home.

In 1991, when she created this daycare, she thought it was going to be hard to find employees. "I was very fortunate," she said. "I didn't have to find my staff because my staff found me."

When Anderson told her friend of twenty years, Joyce Mason, 57, that she was creating a daycare, Mason was all for it. "From day one I was here," Mason said.

Though she loves her job, Anderson explains that there are good and bad days when running a daycare. "Every time you're taking care of other people's children there's always one who may not agree with how their child is being handled or taken care of," she said.

Anderson works with children as young as three months old, all the way up to five, when they are ready for first grade. She teaches children how to eat on their own, how to write and even how to use the bathroom on their own as well.

"I think the hardest thing to do is to teach a child how to use the bathroom because everything else just sort of comes naturally," she said. "Oh, and of course teaching them how to write and tie their own shoes are hard, as well."

"I never had a problem leaving my child with Mrs. Anderson," said a parent who wished not to give her name. "My child loves coming here and sometimes doesn't even want to come home."

Montague Jones Jr., 35, a very close friend of Anderson, feels that her creating a daycare has made her one of the happiest people in the world. "She's a very good person," he says, "thoughtful, kind, and very generous. I even trust her with my own kids, said Jones, There's no one more caring of children than her."

Mason agrees. "She doesn't have any favorites," she said. "The children are all equal and all loved the same."

Although Anderson has only one child of her own, a son, she feels that with daycare she's a mother of twenty-two.

"I know that no kid is prefect and each one will have their own personality," said Anderson. "But that's the greatest part about being around children because you get to teach them, love them, and also learn form them as they grow.

Unlikely Hero

By: Aquib Ali

People these days can beat around the bush all they want. They can jump from one career job to another. Yet, one man knows exactly what he wants to accomplish in life. “I want to go back to my country and help out the poor children in the Dominican Republic,” says Ricardo Castillo, 18, an employee at the Apex Center at Lehman College.

Castillo was born in Puerto Rico, but his parents are from the Dominican Republic. He considers himself to be 100 percent Dominican, but in the early years of his life he went to school in Puerto Rico. When he was ten, Castillo and his family came to New York City. He said it was tough for him to adjust to the American system because he didn’t know any English. He struggled in his studies, but eventually got help from his father and quickly turned into a good student. Castillo attended middle school at P.S. 95, and attended high school at Evander Childs. After High School, Castillo decided to stay in the city and attend Lehman College. Castillo is currently a student at Lehman College, and aims to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration and computer applications.

When he isn’t working on the Lehman College campus, Castillo is helping out his father. His father is a superintendent and Castillo has to help make sure the building is in tip top shape. “I paint, plaster, and clean the building,” he said. He credits his father with helping him become the person he is today. He said his father’s pushed him hard and told him “That this is America, and in America you have to work hard and make your own living, or else you’re going to end up a bum.”
After the speech, his father gave him; Castillo wanted to help people in the Dominican Republic. He said after college he wanted to bring his business and computer smarts to Dominican Republic. “I know I wasn’t born there, but my parents were. Giving back to the poor children in the country would be a great feeling and it would set a good example for the kids. One day I want a kid to say I was their role model, like my father was too me,” said Castillo.

Rap or Religion?

By: Rosa Mancia

Music is an inspiration, something that can change emotions from happy to sad or sad to happy in a second. It offers a way out for so many emotions and also helps you express yourself, said Rene Valdez a young man who dreams of one day becoming a rapper.

Rap began to emerge in the late 1960's and early 70's in Kingston, Jamaica. During the early 1970's rap was being heard in the South Bronx, New York City. Rapping can be traced back to African roots. Its also known as emceeing, which is very important in the hip-hop culture. One important element in rapping is being able to rhyme. By 1990 rap was being accepted, and it was being heard more widely.

"I listen to rap every day," said Valdez, the charismatic teenager who has been motivated since childhood to become a rapper. He got this motivation and desire to rap from Eminem, a famous rapper, whom he admires. Valdez dreams of working with Eminem and learning from this very successful rapper.

Valdez tries to fit rap into his everyday life and takes the opportunity to practice every chance he gets. If I'm in school and I have nothing to do, I'll rap," said Valdez. When I get home I also rap."

My friends hear me rap all the time, mostly at school," he said. His friends support him in his dream and are always willing to hear his new lyrics.

I am supportive of Rene, said Marvin Espana, 16, a close friend of. Everyone has a dream and everyones dream can be accomplished. Hes a bit insane though. Espana has had the chance to not only hear Valdezs lyrics but hes also rapped with him. Rene is progressing, Espana said.

On the other hand, not everyone is supportive of Valdezs dream. His sister, Maria Valdez, 21, is neither a fan nor a supporter of her brothers dream. I am definitely not supportive, she says. I think its a ridiculous idea and a waste of time. I dont think hell make it because of the fact that he doesnt have the talent.

Part of Marias lack of enthusiasm comes from her religion. The Valdez family are members of the Seventh Day Adventist church. Rene has been attending this church with his family since he was a child, and he knows that the church members wouldnt be pleased with his career aspiration.

I dont see a conflict, but I know that other people will see the problem about me wanting to rap, Rene said. I mean, how do you rap and go to church? Its two different things, and thats the problem, he said, looking rather upset. Even for Valdez there is a fine line between rap music and religion and this line shouldnt be crossed.

It would be very hard for someone in church to want to rap," said Pastor Jorge
Romero, of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. In the church there isn't a space for rapping so that the skill can be developed.

Rapping and religion seem to go back to the idea of respect and disrespect. In a sense rapping can be disrespectful as a career for a Christian," said Pastor Romero. The message in the lyrics goes against the church and rap is mundane. Rap and religion are two things that should be separate and they are opposite to one another, he said.

Id never mix religion with rap, said Valdez. I think that would be very disrespectful and idiotic. So where and how does he leave religion?

"Rene supports and believes what the church says, but he doesn't follow it," said his friend. Espana himself understands the conflict of going to church and wanting to rap. Valdezs sister seems to believe that he hates going to church and only goes because he once made a promise to someone that he wouldnt stop going.

Valdez has a decision to make alone but he is taking his time since he is still attending the church that has seen him grow up for so many years. Im afraid to fail, but mostly Im afraid of letting myself down, said Rene Valdez.

Samuel Spital: Civil Rights Lawyer

By: Alberto Aquino

Samuel Spital is a young lawyer who gained a new voice and vocation after his astounding experiences at Harvard Law School.

Spital is a Chesterfield Smith Fellow at Holland & Knight, one of the largest law firms in the world. He received his bachelor’s degree in 2000 from Harvard University and his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2004. Spital currently works in a non-profit community service team focused on voting rights, the death penalty work, and prison rights. “The most satisfying part is to feel like, even if it doesn’t work out, you really make a contribution in someone’s life,” Spital said.

“I have a client in Louisiana who in my opinion faces a lot of harassment from prison officials,” said Spital. “There have been small changes and it has made such a difference for him to have someone advocating for him. Obviously, it won’t change that he is in a single cell 22 hours a day, but you get to see the effect it has on him and it is really special.”

Spital grew a love for law during his days in college. “I really liked it,” he said about Harvard. “I liked that it was big, that there was a lot of events and there were lots of speakers.” There, he heard an inspiring lecture by Lani Guinier, the influential civil rights scholar who was once nominated by Bill Clinton for assistant attorney general but withdrawn under pressure from conservative media who painted her as a “reverse racist.” “Afterwards I told her that she inspired me to become a civil rights lawyer.” Spital said.

In college, Spital also met and worked with Laurence Henry Tribe, a constitutional law expert and Supreme Court justice. His training led to clerkships with Harry T. Edwards of the United States Court of Appeals, and John Paul Stevens of the Supreme Court of the United States.

“He's more than his profession or what school he attended,” said Martha Spital, supervising clinical social worker at the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services and mother of Samuel Spital. “He's a great guy not because of his accomplishments but because of whom he is inside and the values he lives by.”

“We had the pleasure to meet one of the federal judges he clerked for and he told us this story,” said Spital’s mother, Martha. “When he saw Sam's resume he wasn't sure he was going to interview him for the highly competitive position. His resume was so stellar he figured Sam would probably not be a nice guy to work with. Sam was in the area so he decided to call this judge to see if he could meet with him. The judge agreed and was so impressed with how personable he is that he offered Sam the job on the spot.”

“I think he is a very good person and he cares about people,” says Dr. Aaron Spital, Elmhurst Hospital Center and father of Samuel Spital. “He believes in doing the right thing and I think that’s his strongest strength.”

All In A Days Work

By Deidre Thompson

Chaotic and hectic are only a few words that describe the atmosphere in which Marisa M. White works. At first glance the office of Bronx Net Television is a place, in which no one seems to have time, but it is actually the complete opposite. The office is a family and at the center of it is the motherly White, according to Marcelo Mindez, colleague and program manager at the station.

The Intern Coordinator of Bronx Net Television, White was born on September 29, 1966, to a working class family. They lived in the Fordham section of the Bronx. Her love of books and media began with her mother. I think I get my love of the written word and beautiful camera work from her. she said. White initially started as an English major at Iona College, then transferred to Fordham University and began taking media classes. She said that Iona was not very stimulating but that changed as soon as she got to Fordham. It [Fordham University] was just a very studious, very academic [place]. said White about her alma mater.

White also attributes her early love of media and the camera to her uncle, a cameraman, who used to travel to places like New Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and India. Once he asked her to assist him on a video shoot and she fell in love with the medium. From then on there was no turning back. While at Fordham, when she was in a psychology course, the professor asked a question that would change her initial plan to become an English teacher .He asked the class If youve been a teacher for 25 years what do you hope to have accomplished? She replied I wasnt sure if I wanted to be in a classroom for 25 years.

White began in the media business while in college and is quick to call it a tough and demanding business. Though she says its a tough and demanding job she clearly loves what she is doing. I enjoy being around the different kinds of people that T.V. brings. she says.

It is perhaps Whites own enjoyment of her job that makes her co-workers to think of her as the mother of the office. A number of her colleagues cannot pinpoint the bad qualities of Marisa White but one gave an answer. She is not able to go home sometimes. said Marcelo Mendez, laughing. Shes like my aunt or my sister said Daehoon Chung, an accountant at Bronx Net Television. She does all she can basically like a mother does and makes sure that everyone hired does their job. she said and also adds I havent seen any of her bad qualities honestly. said Bharati S. Kemraj, another of Whites colleagues.

Whites life however does not begin and end with her job at Bronx Net. She is also a professor of television production at Lehman College . Marisa comes from a news background and the focus she brings to her job at Bronx Net bridges that production experience with the educating and mentoring that is a part of our mission, said Michael Max Knobbe, executive director of Bronx Net Television. She is an actual mother of two children as well as thirty other interns and students she supervises.

I remember a saying my father had about parenting:" you should hold your child as you do a bar of soap: firmly, but gently. she said

Ruby Nagra- ‘FIYA’ Dancer

By: Prabjot Kaur

“A lot of people underestimated us,” said Ruby Nagra, sitting back in her car and staring ahead. “They were like, ‘Oh you can’t do it.’ That just drove us even more and that’s how FIYA came to be.”

Nagra is an upcoming junior at Baruch College who has decided to add more spice to her life by becoming co-captain to the Asian dance group, ‘Baruch FIYA.’ The name started off as a joke when someone said that their group was like ‘fire,’ and they stuck with name, but with a little twist.

Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., Nagra grew up in a Punjabi family, and her dances reflect her Indian roots. While attending Baruch, Nagra went to various dance competitions with her friends, and thrived on the energy. One night, while watching yet another performance, she and her friends decided: “We can do that too!” Putting their heads together, her captain and fellow junior at Baruch, Ruthba Tabassum, came up with the concept of an all-girl, 12-member team, which was an unusual idea. With each member contributing to the group, the team’s own ‘fire’ was created.

“I always wanted to join a dance team,” said Nagra. “And when you see success stories, like these people, can do it, you want to do it too.” Nagra’s presence in the group, however, was not only fueled by her desire to dance. It also became a means by which she could shed the stress of college, embrace her rich cultural heritage, and meet different people.

“It just gets your mind off everything when you’re in the moment,” said Nagra, referring to the stage. “To go in front of hundreds of people, and dance, and have the spotlight, and contribute all you have into it. It’s an incredible feeling.” Nagra’s captain, Tabassum, agrees. “I always wanted to get away and to keep my mind off everything,” she said. “It was perfect.”

Nagra, a tall and slender brunette, entered Baruch in 2005 as a marketing major, but after experiencing the field first hand, she decided it wasn’t for her. Her interests turned to finance, and she plans on pursuing a career in investment banking after graduation. Along with academics, Nagra works as a cashier at Rite-Aid in order to help with the bills and school expenses. Considering her hectic schedule, finding time to rehearse and practice is a feat in itself, but she enjoys the challenge. “It’s so fun!” she said.

The dance team first began to make its mark this year and is gaining popularity amongst the CUNY students. The dances range from classical Indian steps to bhangra, a traditional Punjabi art, to moves inspired by Bollywood film songs, and are held at places like Lincoln Center and Hindu Community Centers, which have large auditoriums. The groups plan out the competition themselves, and get sponsors to help them carry out the presentations. The members of ‘FIYA’ all contribute to the choreography, with Nagra and Tabassum in charge of arranging rehearsals, practices, and planning performances. Half of the girls are novices, while the other half is experienced. “It was a real mess the first time we did it,” Nagra said. “But we’ve learned from our mistakes and we’ve moved on.” The group has entered a few competitions, done performances, and has even headlined at weddings, mostly for practice.

“Competitions are nerve-wracking,” Nagra said. “But it’s inspiring to see other dance teams. To see how they’re different from us. You just learn from each other.” From going to countless competitions, and competing as well, Nagra has experienced the dos and don’ts of performing on stage, and feels that the team has grown from them.

Being in a dance group that’s focused on Indian culture has led Nagra to get a better understanding of her heritage. Nagra went to Queens Vocational High School., where the student population is predominantly Hispanic. She really wasn’t in touch with her Indian roots. Except for her family, Nagra didn’t have a lot of contact with other Indians in her age group, increasing her alienation from her culture. “I was never into the Indian thing in high school,” she said, smiling. “But getting into dance, you learn from each other. I was such confused Desi,”- young South Asian-“But nnow I’ve embraced t.”

Others around campus also take pleasure in Indian cultural dancing. “I enjoy watching Indian dancing,” said Navjot Kaur, a senior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “On TV, all you see all day is American dancing on music videos. It’s nice to see your culture. I mean, you can’t go to your country, but when you see these shows, you get a little taste of India.”

Baruch College welcomes cultural diffusion by sponsoring clubs that emphasize the importance of different cultures. Such clubs include the Asian Cultural Exchange. Another big one is Club India. The people who run the club are part of successful dance teams, one which is ranked third in all intercollegiate Indian dance competitions in the U.S.

Nagra feels that dance has allowed her to meet a lot of different people whom she normally wouldn’t get a chance to talk to because of the vast swirl of students in the CUNY network. “My team is so diverse, it’s not even funny,” she said, laughing. “You get to meet so many people and really get a great social life. You meet people in different majors and you get connections to everything.” Her team ranges from sophomores to seniors, all from different parts of the school, with different aspirations for the future.

“In college it’s hard to find people of your own nationality,” said Kaur. “It’s hard to meet people in general, but these groups help a lot.” She saw ‘FIYA’ perform at a Hindu Temple in May, and said she loved the way the girls brought new energy to the competition and the way they synchronized their steps so well.

Although Baruch encourages cultural diversity, it does not offer financial support the teams need to perform at various competitions. With so many groups at Baruch, it would be impossible and financially draining to support them all. Nagra and her team fund raise on their own in order to attend competitions. “It’s all about marketing,” she said. “The more you promote, the more people will show up.” Facebook has also been a great help in promoting ‘FIYA,’ reaching the maximum amount of audience in the minimum amount of time.

Her family is very supportive of her dancing. “Like 50 members of my family filled the seats at the first competition,” she joked. Bakshish Nagra, her mother, is especially pleased by Nagra’s accomplishments. “She dances beautifully and I’m full of pride,” she said.

At the moment, Nagra is preparing for her next competition, which will take place on September 8th at the Fashion Institute of Technology. As excited as she is, she can’t help but feel nervous. Her group is going to be belly dancing and ribbon dancing for the first time, and now they are practicing as hard as ever. “The more your team progresses, the more you want a challenge,” she said. “You always want to step it up a notch. You know, you get on stage, you have a whole bunch of people cheering for you, and you’ve worked so hard at something. You just want to present it.”

With so much energy going into the art form, could dance become Nagra’s career aspiration? “I’d rather more focus on my education,” she said. Even though it’s just for fun, she feels that it’s helped in academics as well. Learning new moves and memorizing steps helps to enhance a person’s memory, and in the long run, helps her with exams too, she said.

“When I started dancing, it was something different to do,” said Nagra. “And life just got a little more exciting. Anything you like or passionate about, take it up, ‘cause life gets interesting.”

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bronx MAN

By: Mehadi Hassan

Michael Knobbe is a person who loves the Bronx. His interests in the borough’s diverse music and cultures have allowed him to channel the voices of the people from his borough through Bronxnet-the non-profit community television station serving the Bronx.

Knobbe has lived in the Bronx all his life. He is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science (Class of 1987) and completed his undergrad degree in an out of state college but earned his master’s degree at Lehman College. While earning his master’s, Knobbe stumbled upon the subbasement of Carman Hall, which forever changed his life. There, in the basement, he saw a flier advertising for graphic artist for a new TV station-Bronxnet. After applying for the job and becoming Bronxnet’s first graphic, Knobbe saw the station grow over the coming 14 years. Being such a dedicated worker for the station, Knobbe was appointed executive director for Bronxnet in 2002, which fits the love he has for the Bronx and offers him a way to express it.

Doing an on-air job was not Knobbe’s dream, as his passion since childhood had always been for music and art. “I loved art and music,” Knobbe says. “I wanted to do art one way or the other, even before I started working at Bronxnet.” So what changed Knobbe’s mind?

“An epiphany happened when I was asked to produce and edit this performing art series and that’s when I really started to know I loved this medium,” he says. “I came to love editing and shooting and producing.”

“Michael loves what he’s doing and likes for the public voice to be heard,” says Bharati S Kemraj, administrative assistant to Knobbe. “He is the guardian angel of Bronxnet.” Kemraj has worked closely with Knobbe for a couple of years and noted that Knobbe spends all of his time trying to keep Bronxnet on the air because he cares so much about the public voice. “What Michael is doing is giving back as much as he can to the people of the Bronx community,” says Kemraj. “His bad habit is spending every minute he has dedicated to this station.”

Why does Knobbe love the Bronx so much? “It’s a beautiful community,” he says. “I have a passion for this place. I have an affinity for the media in the Bronx. I love what we share in the borough.” Knobbe has been a Bronxite all his life and has been very successful in protecting the voice of his borough. “He’s been a busy, industrious person,” says Shawn Smith, Knobbe’s senior editor. “Since he’s industrious he’s so successful.”

Knobbe’s love for diverse cultures is not limited to the Bronx. “Whenever we get the chance, we connect to the world we shoot it,” says Knobbe. “We sent out cameras to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Sahara Desert, Morocco.” Knobbe even wears an armband he received from the Sahara desert to show how much he loves diverse cultures.

Knobbe has a passion for the Bronx and wants to keep the public voice of the borough alive. “Michael is the Bronx,” says Smith. “If you say the Bronx, you can say Michael synonymously.”

A Changed Woman

By: Keisha Ramos

Described as a lovable mother, a caring person, a true friend, by her friends, Aixa Morales has, however lived a life of hurt and hardships.

“Since the day I was born my life was difficult,” Morales said. At the age of one her parents divorced. She and her twin sister were raised by her mother. Morales was born August 26, 1961 , in Bronx , N.Y. Morales and her twin sister lived a “wild life.” “We would act out in the streets, looking for trouble,” she said. While their mother thought they were sleeping, Morales and her sister would go out partying, and getting into trouble.

Morales is tall, with long black curly hair, with the looks of a model. The “wild life” she lived as a child, grew to being the “wild life” she lived as an adult. “I got into relationships with guys that were worth nothing,” she said. A man she described as “one of these guys” was her first husband, with whom she had a daughter. “He used to beat me up everyday and he was using marijuana, and I got into marijuana with him,” she said. As time passed, Morales’ life with her husband got harder and she eventually left him.

What she found instead was a drug dependency. She was sniffing a lot of cocaine, doing really badly. Her best friend, Ivonne Rodriguez, helped her out. “If it wasn’t because of Ivonne, I think I would have been dead right now,” Morales said. “I thank god so much that I’m not.”

But Morales got even deeper into drugs when she met Orlando, her second husband, which whom she had a son and a daughter. Orlando was a popular drug dealer in Puerto Rico . “He was getting really big in that world,” Morales said. Due to that he had a lot of enemies. One night a friend of Orlando ’s came to pick him up. Morales’ son wanted to go with his dad, but something told Morales not to let him. “That was the last time I saw him,” stated Morales, referring to her husband Orlando. “We searched for him the next day everywhere. One night I had a dream to go to some mountain in Puerto Rico.” Police found Orlando murdered, chopped into pieces, and dumped in a trash can in a mountain in Puerto Rico .

“Aixa cried for months,” said Rodriguez. “That was a big impact on her.” That’s when Morales realized she needed to change, she needed to let go of that life. “Now I see Aixa Morales and I say, ‘wow, she has changed a lot, and I’m happy,’” said Rodriguez. “I love her a lot. There’s always a magnet that connects us together.”

Although Morales has many people that love her, such as Rodriguez, her twin sister, her kids, and her last husband, Morales also has enemies. “To tell you the truth, I never liked her, never did, never will,” said her first husband’s sister. “I hate what she did, raising my niece in a horrible atmosphere full of drugs and alcohol.”
“I committed many mistakes in my life,” admits Morales. Many mistakes that make me the person I am today, also a person that is still alive. And now I look up to God and I tell him….thank you.”

Dancing Spirits

By: Ericka Aguilar

With dance auditions and recitals on her “To-Do” list, Michelle Gonzalez, 17, a student at Cristo Rey New York High School, is dancing her way into performing on Broadway one day.

At the age of seven, when Gonzalez first began taking ballet lessons, she realized that all she wanted to do was dance. She would attend her dance classes in her church’s basement three days a week and also practice at home in her spare time. With all the skills Gonzalez acquired, she was able to participate in more than five recitals, two plays and one solo. So far, she’s won six trophies in competitions, many of which she won first place.

“Many people think that ballet is boring,” Gonzalez said, “To me, ballet is my yoga with the blisters and the pain.” According to Gonzalez, her career is just beginning. As a child, she enjoyed dancing as the fairy in a school play, but now she wants to dance as the fairy in a dramatic musical on Broadway. “I love it,” she said, “but I’m not the only one competing to dance on Broadway.”

Marissa Hunter, 18, another dancer who is also competing to dance on Broadway, says that Gonzalez is a very hard worker. “She is an ambitious person, but I will do whatever it takes to get to Broadway,” she said, “even if I have to knock her out my way.” Hunter notices Gonzalez’s hard work and sometimes she feels that they are both in a race or competition. “She’s very competitive,” she says, “Sometimes I don’t want to get in her way, but it’s showbiz.”

Gonzalez believes that her number one supporter is her mother, Blanca Gonzalez, who has always stood at her side. “Michelle is a very strong person. I’ve seen her fallen so many times, but obviously she learns from her mistakes,” she said. Mrs. Gonzalez says that she attended all of her daughter’s performances and says she’s getting better and better every time.

Gonzalez will be attending her senior year in the fall. She still doesn’t know what college to look forward to, but she is setting high expectations for herself. “I’m just letting the world know to look out for me,” she says, “and to keep an eye out for me in Broadway.”


By Stacy-Ann Ellis

Every Sunday, Megan Wilkinson sits in the pews of St. John’s United Methodist Church and sings the hymns along with the rest of the congregation, holding the Bible in both hands. Though the majority of the church sees her as the ideal Christian child, the connection between her and the book in her lap could never be more distant.

“She is involved with the youth, involved in the youth choir, and part of the dance ministry,” said Janet Greaves, a member of the Divinity Dancers, the praise dance group within the church. Greaves only mentions a few of the many ways that Wilkinson has been active in her church. Aside from being a praise dancer and a choir member, Wilkinson has volunteered her time in the nursery, watching the children of adults wishing to peacefully enjoy services. Not only does she volunteer her services in church, she also offers to baby-sit the children of the church on her own time. Megan Wilkinson is the pure, innocent, all-around perfect follower of God. “Megan has been a pillar of this church,” said Keith Price, a lay leader for St. John’s United Methodist Church. “She’s one of those who return to give back to God that which God has blessed her with.”

Wilkinson, however, has another take on her relationship with God. “I count myself as a Christian but I don’t believe in the Lord half the time,” confessed Wilkinson. She says being a Christian is “just a title.” In fact, she is skeptical when it comes to faith: “I’m not going to accept the Lord until I see some action.”

Wilkinson is one of the most un-traditional “Christians” you may find in St. John’s. “I think Megan’s freaky,” said Shenley Boyce, a child at St. John’s. With five piercings in her right ear, four on her left, one in her naval, and a tattoo on her foot, Wilkinson definitely stands out among the congregation.

However, her physical features are not the most prominent and puzzling aspect of her life. “‘You can’t honestly call yourself a lesbian and a Christian. They don’t exist.’” These words came from her very own mother, Wilkinson said. She has been sure of her sexuality since she was 12-years-old and battling her parents’ opposition to it. “The fact that I was dating a female was outrageous to them,” she recalls. “‘We didn’t raise you in a lesbian lifestyle. You can’t be a lesbian.’” After her parents finally discovered her lifestyle on Myspace and had a family meeting about it, her father refused to talk to her for “about 4 to 5 months” and her mother wouldn’t even look at her for a while. She had to confide in her aunt, the only family member who could understand her.

Though she is often misread, misinterpreted, as well as both under and overestimated, pseudo-Christian Megan Wilkinson makes sure that she is the only one in control of her life. “I’m a grown child. I know what I am doing. I may act like I’m stupid just to fool you, but mark my words, I know what I’m doing.”

The Man Behind the Scenes: John Driver

by: Aquib Ali, Carol Fernandez, Tamesh Sukul

People are unique in their own ways and can teach you a lot about life and what it takes to be a successful person. “You can say I was hand picked because there aren’t a lot of people that, I think can teach video production, that have professional experience,” says John Driver, a teacher at the video production, program at College Now.

Since Driver was young, he wanted to be in the field of video production. He enjoyed watching movies and wanted to be an actor. Surprisingly enough his parents supported him in his goals. “My mother was a teacher and so was my father. They always supported me no matter what,” said Driver. His career in the video production industry dates back to when he was involved in soap operas such as, “Search for Tomorrow,” and the “Edge of Night.” “It was a great experience for me, being a part of those soap operas,” said Driver.

Saying Driver is just a teacher at Lehman College would be an understatement. Driver has guest starred in Law and Order a few times, has worked for News 12 the Bronx and is currently working with BronxNet.

At the end of the Lehman College Now program, he wishes to leave twenty students with a sense of how to tell a story through pictures. “I want them to have the professionalism needed to go forward in this business. I want them to understand the time pressures that they’re under, and a little picture of what it’s really like in the real world and doing this on a daily basis,” says Driver.

Sherwood McPhaul- Future Lifesaver

By: Alberto Aquino and Prabjot Kaur

“I quit my job,” said Sherwood McPhaul, a student majoring in social work at Lehman College. “That’s how much I believe in it.”

McPhaul is a 39-year-old who moved back to the city from Suffolk County, Long Island, to pursue his aspirations of becoming a clinical therapist, serving those who abuse chemical substances and suffer from various mental illnesses. Going back to school “so late in life,” as he puts it, McPhaul found his age to be his biggest obstacle. To fulfill his dreams, he quit his job as a clinical case manager for HIV/AIDS and reentered the academic world. He is majoring in social work and expects to get his master’s degree in that field, “with God as my mentor.”

“I have an altruistic personality,” said McPhaul. “I can’t change the world, but I would just like to possibly help somebody see that there is light; to be able to see a future with hope.” McPhaul believes that medication is not the only solution in helping those who suffer from different psychiatric disorders. Instead, he believes when the medications lose their effect, patients experience loneliness and depression and can only be cured if they find someone to talk to. McPhaul wants to be that person.

His first step in becoming an ear for the depressed was to learn all that he could about psychiatry and social work. Because, as he said, he heard such good things about the social work program at Lehman College, he moved back to the city to attend it. “Right now, I would like to hopefully find a mentor and go to him and be humble, and have some humility, and hope to learn as much as I can learn in order to become an effective therapist,” said McPhaul.

McPhaul has seen the effects of mental illness and substance abuse first hand in his own family, and knows the damage it can do. “America has had a love affair with drugs for a very long time,” he said. “This love affair has gotten to a point where it has blown to astronomical proportions.” “This epidemic,” as he put it, can only end one person at a time. McPhaul’s main objective at this point is to learn as much as he can about the field of social work so that he can reach people through his words and practice.

“It took a lot of soul searching,” said McPhaul. “It took a lot of prayer, and not only prayer, but meditation. You pray for an answer; you meditate to hear it.”


By Christina Baerga and Stacy-Ann Ellis

As the saying goes, “the family that plays together stays together.” But what about working together? Long time Lehman College employee, Fausto Ramirez, has something to say about that.

The 44-year-old assistant director of public safety at Lehman College since 1984 has worked with his wife, Sonia, an accounts payable manager at Lehman. They try to travel to and from work together, but keep their distance during work hours. “We try to avoid each other,” said Ramirez. “We’re in separate buildings. It’s better that way.” He avoids his wife at work because he treasures their marriage and wants to keep it strong.

“We’ve been married now for 23 years,” Ramirez said. “She was my high school sweetheart.” The two met each other at age 17 and still love each other dearly to this day.

The Ramirez’s raised two children, both of whom attended college. The eldest daughter recently graduated from St. John’s University with a degree in graphic design. “She’s working for Urban Latino”—a magazine—“and is the junior graphic designer for the company,” said Ramirez. His son, meanwhile, is entering his second year at John Jay College, studying criminal justice, “just like his father.” Ramirez Sr. is proud that his son has not only chosen to attend the same college that he did, but that Ramirez, Jr. is also following the same career path.

Culture remains an integral part of this family’s life. Ramirez was raised in New York in a Puerto Rican family. When his mother was nine months pregnant with him, she left Puerto Rico and came to the States. “You could say I was made in Puerto Rico, but born here,” jokes Ramirez. He tries to visit his retired parents in Puerto Rico as often as he can, but due to his busy work schedule, that ends up being “once every three years.”

As a proud Puerto Rican man, he lives day by day loving his wife and his two children. He treasures the traditional values of his heritage and makes them a part of his household life. “We still keep the same music,” he said. “I even play the old music and now my kids like it too.” “The way my father and mother raised us [was] teaching us to…stay together all the time.”

The Making of a Teacher

By: Malisa Dutson, Jean Kapkanoff

I never would have been a teacher if not for that, said Jay Gurka, 61, seated in his office at Lehman College .

Retired teacher Gurka is the assistant coordinator of College Now, a program in Lehman College . Before his retirement, Gurka was an assistant principal for guidance at Jane Addams High School , a high school on 2373 East 30th Street, where he often worked with students who were taking College Now courses. But his goal in life wasnt even close to becoming a teacher or even being someone who works with kids.

As a graduate student at Long Island University in the sixties, Gurka studied accounting, business law, and bookkeeping. By 1969, he was working as an accountant. At that time, the United States was involved in the Vietnam War, and Gurka, who was 23 at the time, was classified as 1A, meaning he could be drafted into the armed forces at any time.

I dont believe in war, said Gurka, a pacifist to this day. As teachers were exempt from being drafted in order to avoid a situation that would have completely contradicted his beliefs, Gurka decided to pursue a career in education.

I felt I could do more good by being a teacher than going to war, he said. I would be a terrible solider.

Once the war was over, Gurka found himself in love with teaching, and he never returned to accounting. He has been teaching for over thirty years.
His objection to war did not end with the Vietnam War which was finally concluded in 1975. Gurka became certified in conflict resolution and mediation as part of his training. He feels that many wars could be prevented if people would take the time to listen to one another. According to him, the practice of conflict resolution is not always successful because people are not always willing to resolve their problems peacefully.

People have to be accepting of the process, he says. People dont realize that listening is a skill.

La Música Es Su Vida

By: Shahida Arabi, Mehadi Hassan, Deidre Thompson

Music pervades Armando Rodríguez's life. An adjunct professor in the department of music at Lehman College, a cornet and trumpet player, and a co-director of the Lehman College Latin Jazz Band, 55 year-old Rodríguez spends his days orchestrating a diverse group of people, all united by their shared love of Latin music.

As co-director, Rodríguez is one of the very few Latinos who are involved in Latin Jazz Band. This band began in 2003, and currently has about 22 members. Ironically, the Latin Band’s membership has what Rodríguez called “a minority of Latinos.” While there are three Latin in the band, there are also musicians who hail from Japan, France, and Canada. Teachers and students alike from Lehman College constitute a majority of the band, allowing for diversity of age as well as ethnicity.

The Latin Jazz Band has not only brought people together, it has enriched Rodríguez's life by allowing him to share his gift with the community. Writing music for the band has been a creative outlet for Rodríguez, who is passionate about the impact Latin music has had on mainstream culture, an effect he calls “international.”

So what makes these people interested in music that is not “their own? Rodríguez says the Latin Jazz Band gives people of different backgrounds and experiences a "way of expressing [themselves] and being creative" in a college setting.

"Just because it's a Latino band doesn't mean you have to be Latino to be in it," as Rodríguez said.

For more information on the Latin Jazz Band at Lehman College, visit: http://lclatinjazzband.blogspot.com

Mini-Profile: Vanessa Cruz

By: Ashley Dreier and Keisha Ramos

Vanessa Cruz used to be a reckless, unthinking teen. But due to many obstacles she’s had to face, her character has taken on a serious tone.

Cruz now attends Banana Kelly High School, a school for students who are in need of a second chance. But for the first two years of high school, she was home schooled. Statistics shows that students who are home schooled have the highest scholastic achievement; 24.5% are enrolled in classes that are one or more grades above their age level. However, statistics are not something that Cruz cares about.
“It’s definitely not every kid’s dream come true,” she said, referring to the experience of being home schooled. “Especially when you’re a teenage girl and all you want to do is stay away from home.”

Cruz’s mother felt that sending her daughter to high school could have a negative effect on her and her sister. “She didn’t want us to be influenced by any druggies or hang out with the ‘wrong crowd,’” said Cruz. Even though Cruz’s mother had good intentions, home schooling her kids had the opposite effect. “It was a horrible experience,” Vanessa said. “I couldn’t go out and meet new people. “I wasn’t really exposed to the world.”

Because Cruz wasn’t “exposed to the world,” she found herself unprepared to deal with her mother and step-father’s separation. “I cried for nights,” she said. “It was so painful the first few weeks, but now I’m learning to deal with it little by little.”Even though he’s not her father by blood and she doesn’t live with him anymore, Cruz still treats him like her biological dad and frequently visits him.
And ironically, she has now begun to finally appreciate her real father, whom she hated all of her life.

“I visited him after so long and saw that he does care about us. He had pictures of us all over his apartment.” said Jessica Cruz, 18 year old sister. Cruz’s mom told Vanessa and her siblings that their biological father didn’t want anything to do with them, but because of her sister’s recent visit she discovered that’s not true. Being sworn to secrecy, Cruz can’t say anything about this to her mother, so instead she just bottles up her anger of being lied to all these years. “I would love to confront her about the truth,” she said.

Even though Cruz had a bit of a rough childhood, she decided to make that into a positive thing and learn from her parents’ mistakes so she herself could be an ideal parent to her future kids. “They won’t be home schooled, that’s for sure,” she said. “I drove my mother crazy being home all the time; No way are my kids going to do that to me. I want them out!”

Monday, July 30, 2007


By: Shahida Arabi, Mehadi Hassan, Deidre Thompson

Students carry their bad high school habits to college when they cheat and plagiarize, studies say. The percentage of students who cheat in high school compared to college differs by a mere 5%,according to U.S. News and World Report, while the percentage of students who plagiarize differs by 2% from high school to college, according to statistics from plagiarism.org. Students can gain access to websites that do their work for them, such as customwritings.com, which charges $10
per page for high school students and $12 a page for college students, for essays.

In high school, cheating and plagiarism are more common than they are in college. "I give about thirteen exams during the whole year, and I'd say we'd have at least one to three cheaters for every exam," said Charles McCanna, a biology teacher at Truman High School.Instances of cheating range from surreptitiously looking over a classmate's exam to copying whole lab assignments. McCanna once discovered one of his best students copying lab assignments. "It doesn't really have to do with the caliber of the students, it's just: 'Oh wait, I didn't prepare, I've got to make up somehow," said McCanna. "I'll pull them aside and say,'What's up with you looking at so-and-so's paper; What's up with the answers on your hands?'" McCanna thinks the best prevention against cheating or plagiarizing is to give students incentives for doing their own school work."You just gotta relate [the lessons] to their life," he said.

As for college students,“ they use resources such as sparknotes.com for their plagiarizing purposes. "College students are more 'sophisticated'," said Akilah Smith, a senior at Lehman College. She said that while high school students plagiarize ineffectually, college students are quite adept at eluding suspicion.

"In college, you're an adult -“ no-one's going to run you down
and spank you," she said.

How to Pay for College

By: Aquib Ali, Tamesh Sukul

Bronx, July 26- While struggling to make ends meet, college students have to find ways to make enough money to pay for college and keep an extra something in their pockets. The search for the perfect part-time job can be rigorous, but it has its benefits.

Typically, a student working on campus can look forward to working 10-12 hours per week. "There's a job in the bookstore, tutoring, and a job in the library," says Kiran Abdur, a freshman at Lehman College."There's always something to do."
A student who is working in the vicinity of those hours can expect to earn 1,500-2,000 in an academic year.

Students working for the University are paid weekly, because students are part-time employees, they do not receive the luxury benefits such as paid holidays, vacations, and sick leave, but they are covered under Workers Compensation.

College costs are steadily rising and students are looking for part-time jobs to help lessen their expenses. Most students find it easier to
work jobs on their campuses.

So, do part-time jobs on campus come with extra benefits? "I sat in my office and got to do my homework," says Samantha Chan, a student in the teaching program at Lehman College.

Students who have part-time jobs outside campus will be more likely to work longer hours and not have enough time for themselves, or for their schoolwork.

Besides the benefits of a campus job, off-campus jobs pay more. "I definitely would take less than what I'm getting paid now at my job," says Matthew Oviedo, a student at Lehman College. He works at Levi's and gets paid $9.50 an hour. "Its good money," he says, "and helps pay for tuition."


By: Elira Brucaj & Rosa Mancia

BRONX, July 26 - Due to the alarmingly low number of black and Hispanic males in New York’ city colleges, the Black Male Initiative Program is recruiting black and Hispanic males to increase their presence in city universities in New York. It has been found that racism is the primary cause of the men’s lack of opportunity and academic success in New York City.

The Black Male Initiative is a program that succeeds in helping black and Hispanic men graduate from college, change their mindset and also aid them to succeed in life, in general. Although the program targets young black and Hispanic men, anyone else, male or female, is welcome to apply to the program.

“We [have] serious issues when it comes to racism in America,” says associate director Rasheem Rooke. He strongly believes that the reason why many black and Hispanic men are not succeeding academically is racism. There is a “lack of opportunity for black and Latino men,” he says.

Although many believe that racism was dealt with long ago in America, there are still many cases of unfair treatment against African-Americans and Hispanics. Stereotypes that have long been in society contribute to the problems facing the average urban male, says James Jervis, associate professor of African American Studies at Lehman
College. “There is a low level of expectations for the black male, the Latino male,” he says. “The attraction is to be cool.”

Family structures have also been a part of the problem and continue to influence the African-American and Hispanic communities in urban society. The lack of a father figure in many black and Latino families contributes to the slow academic progress of their children. “You have these youngsters growing up with no males around,” said Jervis.

“If [the] mother is not doing well, nine times out of ten the child won’t be doing well,” says Rooke. “And that creates a cycle.”

The cultural, economic and social gap between white and black lives in America is regarded by many sociologists and scholars as huge. “A white male with a criminal record is more likely to get a job than a black male without a criminal record,” Jervis said. He says that society has a “low expectation of the black male.” In most correctional facilities across the nation, more than 50% of prisoners are black and Hispanic. “A black male commits a crime,” said Jervis. “He has the worst mug shot.”

Although these are all factors against to the urban black or Latino man, progress and hope for a better future still exist for African-American and Hispanic men. The Black Male Initiative Program is doing well to enable black and Hispanic men to graduate from college.

“Today’s pain is tomorrow’s glory,” says Rooke.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another Watergate?

By: Alberto Aquino and Prabjot Kaur

“Politicians go to college to be gangsters,” said Michael Watkins, a City College graduate. “They learn how to push the papers, shake the hands and kiss the babies.”

Along with Watkins, New Yorkers around the city are exclaiming their frustration over the scandal involving Governor Spitzer that was exposed yesterday. “I think it’s tarnishing what people think about the government,” said Watkins.

It was uncovered that Governor Spitzer’s aides, along with one of his top advisors, were unlawfully using the State Police to collect information about the governor’s principal rival, State Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno. They were looking for important information that would damage Bruno’s political reputation and career, according to a report by the attorney general’s office.

“My first perception of him was that he was someone who will bring more change,” said Jose Negroni, a Summer Youth teacher at Lehman College. “But I think what has been going on gives you more doubt again if it’s just all talk.”

“It’s like a second part to modify Watergate,” said Kyria Perez, a graduate student and math teacher at Lehman College.

The state government’s actions yesterday reminded New Yorkers of the infamous Watergate Scandal involving former President Nixon in which he used his top officials to gain information on the Democratic National Committee illegally. However, although the similarities are present,many feel that this latest scandal does not compare much to Watergate.

“I don’t think it’s as serious as Watergate. It seems more like a petty rivalry,” said Lavern Rhynie, a student at Lehman College. Although the similarities between the two scandals are minimal, they both succeed in hurting citizens’ trust in their government. Other scandals have been revealed in recent years; one involving the former NJ governor, James E. McGreevy, and his subsequent resignation from office.“Nothing surprises me about the politicians and their ways,” said Perez. “If you want to be a public servant, you need to have integrity for the people.”


Amanda Yuan

BEDFORD PARK-LEHMAN COLLEGE STATION, July 24 – Strong responses from
the city’s straphangers are expected tomorrow, when the Metropolitan Transit Authority reveals its 2008 financial plan, which includes a fare hike.

“It’s not fair to the kids; it’s not fair to the elderly; it’s not fair to the people that work and pay their taxes here,” said Leslie (last name withheld), a subway commuter. “I try to avoid riding the train as much as possible because I feel like I’m being robbed.”

The Independent Budget Office conducted a review that estimated atleast a 20% increase in fares to meet rising debt due to transit improvements. Loans for transit improvements are estimated to leave the MTA $32 billion in debt by 2010.

“Things are so expensive to keep the tracks running and everything,they should raise it but not so high,” said Alberto Rivera, a straphanger.

The fare hike will be the most straining to working class subway riders. “It is two dollars back and forth that’s four dollars,” said Sohiara Martinez, a Bronxite. “People are not making so much money and it’s hard to survive. That’s why people are moving out [of New York]. Common folks can’t survive in New York.”

The Dog Story

by: Ericka Aguilar, Carol Fernandez, Eric Pagan

Walking down the streets of the Bronx you will always find a pet owner walking their dog. But it is hard to believe the contrast in the treatment these owners give their dogs. While some dogs live in the lap of luxury and enjoy visits to pet boarding centers, others, like Maximus, a pit bull, are in a living hell. On July 12, Maximus was tied to a tree by his owner, Derick Phanord, and set on fire.

Although dog owners continue to spend large amounts of cash on their pets, others are putting lost of energy into mistreating them. Last year, over 150 cases were filed against dog owners poisoning, beating,and neglecting their animals. According to LookSmart.com, the pet industry has continued to increase, doubling in the last 10 years. While 84 percent of owners treat their pets as well as family members, what
happens to the 16 percent that does not?

Animal cruelty is something that should not happen, said T.Catanno, a clerk at the A&K Pet Store. Believing that animal cruelty is inexcusable, he states that if he ever were to witness animal cruelty, he would make himself responsible for calling authorities.

So, do people spend too much money on their dogs? “I don’t think they spend enough!” said, Mary Tirado, a client at the Animal Hospital on Kingsbridge Road. “I’ve seen people punch their dogs, and I go up to them and tell them how would you feel if that was you?” she said.

Rap Influences

By Ashley Dreier and Keisha Ramos

Guns, violence, money, drugs, and sexually explicit content are what most people think of when they hear the word “rapper.”

Famous rap artist Remy Ma was arrested Saturday, July 21, for attempted murder after she shot a friend following a verbal dispute at a Meatpacking District night spot. Other famous faces like Ja Rule and Li’l Wayne were also arrested on Sunday night. When Ja Rule was stopped for speeding, police officers found a .40 caliber pistol in his car. Within an hour, Li’l Wayne’s tour bus was stopped and cops dispatched to the scene smelled marijuana and discovered a .40 caliber pistol. With these and other indiscretions, are today’s rappers good or bad role models for their many fans?

“I respect them as artists, but I don’t always like their material,” says Eileen Kleinman, 54, a Bronxite.“They can be negative [because of] the language they use in some of their songs.” Although unsure about the message that rappers send through their music,she still allows her three children to listen to hip hop, hoping they
don’t act on any possibly negative influences.

Jean Ibara, an 18 year-old teenager from Westchester Square, thinks it boils down to a matter of dollar bills. “They got money,” she says.“If they got money, they gonna do things like that.”

Louis Sojo, 35, a sergeant and supervisor of the New York Police Department, believes everyone is an individual and doesn’t put all rap artists in one category.“Everyone who is in the spotlight should be conscious of what their doing, because everyone is a role model,” he says.

Will Price Hike Drive Caffeine Cravers Away?

By Stacy-Ann Ellis and Christine Baerga

A recent announcement of an upcoming increase in Starbucks Coffee
prices has sparked mixed reactions from New York’s dedicated coffee

On Tuesday, July 24, Starbucks Coffee announced that the company would raise its prices in the United States and Canada by 10 cents per product, starting next week. This will be Starbuck’s first consumer price hike in North America since August, 2000. The company feels that this price hike is necessary due to the mounting costs of coffee beans and sugar, which have increased by 36% and 39% accordingly.

Though there might be some opposition to the company and their price
hike, Starbucks still has its loyal customers.

“They are very popular, you know?” said Nancy Paris, a customer at Lehman College’s cafeteria. “Everybody goes [to Starbucks] but I think if the prices go up, eventually they will lose business.” Paris feels very strongly about the price increase. “Well I am upset, so I am sure a lot of New Yorkers are upset.”

With Starbucks being such a popular company, the price hike will affect more than just customers; it might have repercussions for the business, as well. “I really believe that Dunkin Donuts is giving them a run for their money,” said Elizabeth Sanchez, a prospective Lehman College student.

“It depends on how much money is in their pocket,” said Steve Sellas, a Bronx resident, sitting at a local Bronx coffee shop. “I don’t give a damn if it goes up $2. If I gotta buy a cup of coffee, I’m gonna buy a cup of coffee.”

Why Hasn’t the United States Intervened in Darfur?

By: Malisa Dutson, Jean Kapkanoff

As the European Union considers sending troops to Chad to protect
refugees fleeing from the ongoing genocide conflict in Darfur, Bronx
residents aware of Darfur’s tragedy think it’s about time for the world to
take action.

“It’s never too late to intervene because there’s suffering going on,” said Ruth, who refused to give her last name. “With the many deaths that have occurred I don’t understand why we haven’t done anything sooner.”

During a meeting with French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday,
European Union (E.U.) Policy Chief Javier Solana concluded that the E.U.
may provide military aid to refugees in Chad until the arrival of U.N.
and African Union forces.

So far, little has been done by the international community to curb the
genocide in Darfur. With an estimated 200,000 dead and 2.5 million in
refugee camps, many Americans remain uninformed.

“I’m only aware of this because I am connected to the U.N.” said
Ismael Betancourt, president of the Bronx-based Multicultural Business
Institute and a former candidate for city government.

Some attribute the United States’ lack of involvement in Darfur to
imperialistic interest in other areas, such as Iraq. “They intervened
in Iraq. It would be better to have intervened in Darfur,” said Betancourt.

“It’s a capitalist country and it’s all down to the best way we can make a buck,” says Steve Hayes, a student at Lehman College.Many people feel that the United States believes there’s no need to intervene in Darfur because there would be no returns. However, although the United States would not benefit economically, innocent people in Darfur are dieing.

“Any country that we have something to gain from we are more likely to intervene in,” said high school teacher Sara Miraldi. “I would like to think they’d intervene to save lives, not for our own economic interest.”

Bronxites Don’t Put Much Trust in Food


BRONX, July 24 - Many Bronx locals are becoming concerned about their health due to the increasing outbreaks of food poisoning, which has led to the loss of trust in the products they buy.

Recently, an outbreak of botulism was discovered in hot dog chili sauce in food brands such as Castleberry’s, Kroger’s, and Austex.Botulism usually results from bacteria, developing in canned goods, such as canned vegetables and meats. Earlier, an outbreak of a form of salmonella, which is a bacterium that results from ineffective sanitation and improper food preparation, was found in the popular children’s snack,Veggie Booty.

The Food and Drug Association (FDA) is responsible for protecting the public’s health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, and cosmetics. Andrea P. Boyar, associate professor in the department of health at Lehman College, feels that the FDA is an understaffed, “overburdened agency.”

“This is damaging the trust [in consumer products] because we are finding out all sorts of problems that are cropping up,” she said.Andre Perez, a 15-year-old student in the pre-med program at Lehman College, has no faith in the FDA. “The FDA tries to hide everything and they approve some stuff that’s, like, hazardous and [they] want to give you a heart attack and diabetes,” he said.

Many locals are refusing to eat at fast-food restaurants. Worried about their health, they choose alternatives to the popular fast-food chains. “Basically, I don’t eat at fast-food chains at all,” said a 17-year-old student who chose to remain anonymous.

Consumers do not put much trust in the products that they buy, locals say. They are aware of the labels but are more concerned about quality and taste. “I don’t think they put much trust in it [consumer products] at all, because usually, if it looks good, they’ll eat it,”the student said. “That’s all that matters to them.”

Fay Koufalis, manager and co-owner of the Bedford Café and Restaurant, does not believe the outbreaks are affecting her customers or her business. Serving everything from hamburgers to fish to soups,Koufalis trusts her staff and the way their food is prepared and handled. “I know what I’m doing,” she says.

Fast food or not, people are still aware of the fact that eating out is still risky. A police officer at Walton High School trusts in what he buys, but is still skeptical about eating out. “I ate boneless ribs,” he said, “the next day I was sick as a dog.”

The FDA is taking steps to protect public health by notifying the public about what they should and shouldn’t eat. “All you can do is hope that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” the police officer said. “You just have to trust it, you know?”

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

SEX: A Personal Choice

By: Alberto Aquino, Elira Brucaj, Carol Fernandez, Prabjot Kaur

Abstinence programs in public schools encourage teenagers to abstain
from sex as the only effective method to prevent sexually transmitted
diseases (STD), sexually transmitted infections (STI), and teenage
pregnancy. “They [students] should know that it’s okay not to have sex,” said Ann Utke, a pre-med teacher at Lehman College.
New laws passed by state legislatures in Iowa and Colorado are presenting obstacles for abstinence programs in public schools. It requires that such programs should be based on science or research, which is just another method to lecture on safer sex rather than abstinence. Some students and experts believe that these programs are futile because they have little effect in stopping students from having sex. “Just saying don’t do it, won’t stop them,” said Utke.
Abstinence programs are ways to provide choices to public high school
students, not to gear them in one direction, says Utke.
These programs, however, are threatened by state legislatures
plans to stop them from being carried out public schools. Trends suggest that children who take part in such programs are just as likely to engage in sex at the same age as children who don’t, according to a study published in Medical News Today. State governments in places like Texas have decided to no longer finance abstinence programs because they do not appear to be effective.
“That’s a shame,” says Cindy Kreisberg, health director at
Lehman College. She believes that these programs offer students knowledge and choices about sex.
School administrations use sex education and condom distribution to promote safe sex among high school students. The message schools send to their students by handing out free condoms is a controversial one. While some believe that it encourages safe sex, others believe that it is promoting casual sex.
“It’s natural to have sex, but if they’re going to have sex,
they should be protected from getting infected by STIs and STDs,” said
Christine Chan, a 17 year old high school student who is currently in
the Pre-Med Health Program at Lehman College.

The Bronx “Bombers”

After a rough start, the New York Yankees have made their way
to an unexpected winning streak, following their victory at Yankee
Stadium on July 17, 2007 against the Toronto Blue Jays. But how long can this streak last?

“They suck!” said Melissa Tiep, a student at Lehman College.“They only won by luck.” Most still have faith. “They are getting hot,” says Luis Espada, a true Yankee fan. He thinks that the Yankees are going to make it all the way even though they’ve had a bumpy first half of this season. Just when it looks like they’re going to break out of a slump like they did on June 14th, 2007 by wining 9 straight games, they start losing. Even though Alex Rodriguez, the current home run and RBI leader in Major League Baseball, is having a phenomenal season, what happened to the rest of the team?

They lack “team chemistry” said Fabio Sanchez, a student at Lehman
College. This is crucial for the Yankees, since A-Rod has almost double
the number of home runs and RBI’s as the rest of his team members.

These facts show that the Bronx Bombers aren’t what they used to be,
or are or who knows? “The team is playing well now but it’s up to
them to decide their future,” said Lehman student, Jaelen Wilder.

Got Pride?

Reported By: Ashley Dreier, Mehadi Hassan, Eric Pagan

For most Bronx residents the New York Yankees are a symbol of Bronx
pride. Although most New Yorkers wouldn’t be able to name players
other than Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, they still consider themselves true Yankee fans.
“New Yorkers want the Yankees to do well,” said Ivan
Obregon, a Bronxite. But others feel that the Yankees are not keeping their good name. Ali Jorge thinks the Yankees have too many good players not to have won a World Series in seven years.
In the past seven years the Yankees have acquired players such as A-Rod and Roger Clemens and have paid them over $10 million a year. The Yankees have the most sizable payroll in Major League Baseball, totaling over $195 million dollars a year, not because they’re hitting homeruns, but because they represent the Bronx. This may be why most Bronx residents support the Yankees even though the team isn’t at the top of its game, literally.
But ironically, Bronx residents might begin to lose their pride once the new Yankee stadium is built. Steve Trimboli, for example, feels that the new stadium will have a negative effect on the borough: fewer Bronxites will attend due to higher prices for tickets.


By: Shahida Arabi, Stacy-Ann Ellis, Keisha Ramos, Deidre Thompson

A recent plane crash in Brazil has ignited controversy over
whether other aviation disasters will spark fear in New Yorkers in
their post-9/11 world. Last night an Airbus 320 crashed into an office
building and gas station in Sao Paulo, Brazil, resulting in a
conflagration reminiscent of the September 11 terrorist attacks. There is a definite similarity between September 11 and the Brazilian plane crash: both involved plane collisions and subsequent conflagration. Yet, would the scene of rubble and civilian casualties renew tensions for New Yorkers?
This event could trigger memories for those struggling with
post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the attacks of September
11, 2001, said Tanjida Afroz, a psychology major and recent graduate of
Hunter College. Post-traumatic stress disorder can involve flashbacks,
emotional repression, and social isolation. It often occurs after a
traumatic event such as 9/11, according to Medline Plus Medical
However, psychologists from Lehman College feel that the
recent incident in Brazil would not have such a strong impact on New
Yorkers. “September 11 was a planned and deliberate attack,” said
psychology professor Martha Lequerica, and this was just an accident.”
John McDonald, an associate professor, refused to comment on the
controversial issue, asserting that his outlook may be considered too
Lequerica said that New Yorkers would more likely be upset
by mishaps at local airports than by an "accident" occurring
approximately 4,000 miles away.
Still, New Yorkers have become what assistant professor of
psychology Anne Reid calls, “resilient when it comes to flying.”
Events like the September 11 terrorist attack have caused some Americans to be alarmed but have not shaken the majority of the country, she said. She said that events like these affect people differently, and those that do not fly frequently are not as susceptible to fear.
“The further away, the less direct [the] impact,” as
Reid said.


By: Shahida Arabi, Stacy-Ann Ellis, Keisha Ramos, Deidre Thompson

After the Brazilian plane crash last Tuesday and
Thursday’s steam pipe explosion, memories of 9/11 are bound to resurface. The news plays an integral role in the fear that most New Yorkers may feel when they hear about such incidents.
“The news wants you to have that fear,” said Mavi Penzo, a 22 year-old New Yorker who has lived here all her life. When asked about the impact that 9/11 had on her, she responded that she would not let the paranoia overwhelm her. “Paranoia is ignorance,” she said.
“Things are going to happen regardless,” said Christine
Herrera, a Lehman College student, referring to news reports about 9/11 stirring fear and concern over future terrorist attacks.
The news sensationalizes the threat of terrorism in order to gain a wider readership, says Abdul Malik, a Puerto Rican Muslim convert. “It
has nothing to do with what is right or who is wrong,” he said.
“It’s about money, oil, and Israel.”
When asked whether he fears the threat of another terrorist
attack, Malik stated that the news was mere “yellow journalism.”
“I don’t fear any terrorist attack, nor should anyone
else. Live your life the way you want to live it.”

David Beckham: The Savior of Major League Soccer?

By: Aquib Ali, Ericka Aguilar, Tamesh Sukul, Jean Kapkanoff

Bronx, July 19 - Despite recent media focus on American soccer -which David Beckham’s summer 2007 debut as a player for the L.A. Galaxy helped to generate - the game itself still seems to be lost on most
American sports fans.
In this country, soccer has is as popular as tube socks.
Soccer ratings are abysmal. Even the game of poker enjoys more exposure; ESPN has been airing the world series of poker over soccer. The highest rating for a soccer game was recorded at an astonishing 0.25 percent and 215,242 households: a Metrostars-Fire game on June 22, 2007. To put this in perspective, one-tenth of the Bronx were viewers of this game. Unless it’s the World Cup, nobody is really interested, said Omar Morton, who grew up with the sport in Ghana. However, statistics show that even after last year’s World Cup, held in Germany, people in America are not big fans of the world’s most popular sport.
Everyone has his own perception of the game, but few have
even basic knowledge of it. When asked how many players are on each
team, “20?” and “8?” were answers students Justin Rosario and Carol
Fernandez gave.
Jay Gurka, a soccer referee, believes that David
Beckham’s arrival in the U.S. is “a positive step for American soccer.” Gurka stated that there aren’t many personalities in soccer and that’s probably why soccer isn’t popular. It’s hard to focus on
soccer when you have baseball, basketball, and hockey,” Gurka said.
Fernandez said she would rather watch and play baseball. “I remember
something about a red card,” Fernandez said, making it clear that she
had no further knowledge of the sport.
Whether or not Americans will become more interested
in soccer as a major sport depends on several factors, as John Cicero, a security guard for the Lehman College campus, points out. Cicero asserts that older
people who grew up fans of more traditional American sports like baseball and football, will probably not develop much interest in soccer. Younger sports fans,
however, may be more open to watching, and even playing, soccer. When asked if he would be interested in attending a soccer game, Cicero said, “No, I’m not
a soccer fan. I’d rather have Yankee tickets.”

Con Edison: In Over Its Head?

By: Malisa Dutson, Rosa Mancia, Amanda Yuan

During last Wednesday’s inclement weather, a steam explosion in midtown Manhattan left one New Yorker dead, more than 30 injured and many, many more questioning Con Edison’s ability to protect the city from severe environmental conditions.

Severe weather conditions have caused many problems with New York City’s ancient infrastructure, problems which Con Edison is having a hard time dealing with.

Antagonism has been building against Con Edison ever since last year’s 10-day outage in Queens. Just the day before the steam pipe explosion, communities in Queens held a flashlight march demanding that Con Edison stop its impending rate hike- the most substantial in history- demanding a 17% rate hike for residents and 10.5% for business owners. “If Con Edison is doing a poor job, why should they get paid more?” said Rmil Amin.

Coincidently, the explosion in midtown the following day accentuated the protesters’ concerns. The explosion also revealed the flaws in New York City’s infrastructure as Mayor Bloomberg had stressed in a speech the previous evening.

“I don’t think we can prevent something even though we plan things. I hope they learn from this unfortunate incident and make the area around the pipes more secure,” said Angela Knight.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

[2007] Journalist Profiles

Aquib Ali
Age: 16
School: DeWitt Clinton
A passionate Mets fan, Aquib Ali is a humorous 16-year-old with ambitious goals for the future. Aquib is currently attending DeWitt Clinton High School and will graduate in June, 2008, after which he plans to continue his education at the University of Buffalo, where he hopes to delve deeper into the world of journalism. This sports fanatic loves to play a variety of games, especially baseball. Aquib aspires to be a sports journalist and create his own sports show. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of accomplished sportscasters such as Gary Cohen, Al Michaels, and Chris Berman, because he admires how dedicated they are to their profession and how well they report sports news, events and issues. Aquib knows the road ahead for him will be long and arduous, but he is determined to accomplish his goal no matter what obstacles come his way. And regardless of the level of success and fame he achieves, Aquib promises never to forsake his home country of Pakistan. “Even though I have been living in America all my life,” Aquib says, “I will never forget my Pakistani roots.”
Tamesh Sukul

Name: Ericka Aguilar
Age: 17
School: DeWitt Clinton High School

If you look at 17-year-old Ericka Aguilar, you would see a future journalist for a well-known magazine. Aguilar hopes to work for publications like the famous CosmoGirl! magazine. After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School as a proud part of the class of 2008, she looks forward to a promising four years at the College of Manhattan, where she hopes to take part in a specialized course focusing on magazine publishing. Aguilar enjoys spending her spare time reading, writing, and swimming. Her favorite book happens to be Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, by Judy Blume. “I felt like the main character related to me because of all the troubles she was going through at the time. She reminded me of myself,” says Aguilar about the book. She also enjoys watching movies with her friends. Comedies are her preferred type of movie, especially the popular film starring the Wayans brothers, White Chicks. With an open mind towards important issues and a true passion for journalism, we can see that Ericka Aguilar is a girl who will pursue and achieve her dreams.
--- Stacy-Ann Ellis

Name: Alberto Aquino
Age: 17
School: Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy
Captain of his school’s soccer and wrestling teams, as well as right fielder for its baseball team, Alberto Aquino, 17, is very involved in extra curricular activities. A senior at the Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy High School, Alberto also covers current events and politics for the academy’s newspaper, “The Gazette.” Alberto is a lover of politics and journalism and wants to continue these studies throughout college by majoring in either political science or international affairs. Since New York is very appealing to Alberto, he plans to attend a nearby college such as SUNY-Albany or SUNY-Binghamton. Alberto idolizes Barack Obama for his success as an African American and how he made it to the U.S. Senate, and maybe beyond, even though the odds were stacked against him as a man of color. Like Obama, Alberto aspires to help people, by either becoming involved in politics himself or becoming a journalist and notifying people of political developments. “I want to be able to help as many people as I can and change the world,” says Alberto.
-- Mehadi Hassan

Name: Shahida Arabi
Age: 16
School: DeWitt Clinton

Upon meeting Shahida Arabi, one might think her an overachieving perfectionist. The truth is, she is an overachieving perfectionist. But that’s just a part of her and it does not entirely define her. This native of Bangladesh describes herself as “versatile and philosophical” and given some time spent with her, it is easy to see why. Her favorite books are the ever popular “Harry Potter” series and when asked if she had the opportunity to live during any time period other than the present she says it would be during the United States Suffrage Movement. She lives her life by the famous Eleanor Roosevelt saying, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Arabi also loves the book The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. She relates her own life to this book, in that she approaches the world with wonder, acknowledging that as she gets older, she will begin to lose her innocence and see the world for what it really is.
-- Deidre Thompson

Name: Christine Baerga
Age: 17
School: DeWitt Clinton High School
Christine Baerga is 17-years-old and currently attending DeWitt Clinton High School. She likes to take risks and is a very outgoing person. Christine hopes to become a fashion or sports journalist one day. Two things she fears most are death and failure. Her favorite quote is “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” Her interests are playing softball and hanging out with friends. She loves to travel and has visited Puerto Rico, Aruba, Spain, Africa, Venezuela, California, and Florida. Christine Baerga: World Traveler!
-- Eric Pagan, Jr.

Name: Elira Brucaj
Age: 16
High School: Lehman High School

Confidence is the first thing you notice about 16-year-old Elira Brucaj. It’s evident the minute she opens her mouth. She gives off the impression that she knows exactly what she wants out of life. But she says that it has taken her a little while to reach this level of self-assurance. She had to overcome her self-esteem issues. “I just stopped caring what people think about me,” said Elira. “It enabled me to push forward and it didn’t hold me back from doing things in front of people.” Now she feels really proud of herself. Elira’s display of confidence shows that she has the potential to do whatever it is she sets her mind to, which, by the way, are two choices that could not be more different from one another: becoming a magazine writer or a dentist.
-- Rosa Mancia

Name: Ashley K. Dreier
Age: 17
School: Herbert H. Lehman High School

Throughout people’s lifetime they experience tragic events. Ashley K. Dreier’s uncle died in 2002. This was something very difficult for her to handle as an 11-year-old. At the time, she had not seen him since her previous birthday, but still felt very close to him. Ashley does not know why her father did not attend his brother’s (her uncle’s) funeral, but she was very hurt by it. She felt like her family never really said goodbye to him.
Many people have different opinions as to who would be the hardest person to lose in one’s life, but to Ashley, it would be her boyfriend. They have been together for only seven months but this has been enough time for her to fall in love with him. The reason that Dreier believes he would be the hardest person for her to lose is not just because he is her boyfriend, but also because of the fact that she believes that a spouse dying is the most tragic thing for someone to endure. When someone close to you dies, you have your partner or spouse there to turn to for support and comfort, but if that is the person to go, your strongest, closest source of support goes too. You may have other people to turn to, but as Ashley says, “it’s not the same.”
Despite her early exposure to loss, Ashley’s life is filled with many joys and fond memories. The fact that she can’t pick a specific one shows that she has a lot of happiness in and around her. It is a combination of her joyous memories and upsetting times that have made her the person she is today: a young lady on the verge and in search of her career.
Keisha Ramos

Name: Malisa Dutson
Age: 16
School: Herbert H. Lehman High School

During this past semester at Herbert H. Lehman High School, Malisa Dutson wrote for the school newspaper, Voice of Lehman. She has always been aware of her passion for writing and her involvement with the Voice helped her to realize it fully. Aside from writing, Malisa also enjoys drawing and listening to a diverse variety of music. “I listen to everything,” she says. “From Arabic to heavy metal. Everything.”
After attending college, Dutson hopes to write for a living and publish a book of poetry. She values substance and emotion in her poetry far more than rhyme and structure. Her ultimate goal is to be respected as an author whose work deeply touches her readers.
-- Jean Kapkanoff

Name: Stacy -Ann Ellis
Age: 17
School: Bronx High School of Science

Born and raised in Flushing, Queens, Stacy-Ann Ellis currently attends Bronx High School of Science. With her easy-going personality and love of writing, Stacy-Ann hopes to work at a magazine after graduating from college. She is surely a driven person. During the school year, Stacy-Ann wakes up in the morning and begins getting prepared for a day of classes at 5:30 a.m. in order to be on her bus to school by 6:15. “My school is very competitive,” she says, explaining her early start and long daily commute. Even with all the stress of classes Stacy-Ann does find time extracurricular activities; she is active in the Black Organization for Student Strength/ West Indian Society(BOSS/WIS), and also practices cheerleading and step. “I love to dance, and have been dancing for the past 11 years,” says Stacy-Ann. With her outgoing personality she also doesn’t feel shy about public speaking – in fact, she is a natural at it!
-- Carol Fernandez

Name: Carol Fernandez
Age: 17
School: Dewitt Clinton High School

Carol Fernandez is a 17 year-old student at Dewitt Clinton High School. In the start of fall ’07, Fernandez will enter her senior year and she will also be the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper. Fernandez has her sights on a career in journalism. Another goal in her life is to make a huge impact on the world! She believes that by making differences in the lives of others, she will feel better about herself. Fernandez says her inspiration for becoming a journalist was her idol the book “El Alquimista” by Paulo Coelho. Fernandez had to read the book for class; now, it’s her favorite piece of literature. “After reading the book, I knew that I wanted to become a journalist,” Fernandez stated.
-- Ericka Aguilar

Name: Mehadi Hassan
Age: 17
School: Bronx High School of Science

Mehadi Hassan is an incoming senior at Bronx Science with a promising future. He plans to attend CUNY Honors College and major in computer science or physics. He already has enough credits to enter his first day in college with at least a semester already completed. But he will not be resting during his last year in high school. Mehadi is planning to take three more AP classes next year and will be continuing his participation in the high school track and fencing teams. Even with his heavy workload and many extracurricular activities he was able to get through his junior year with a high average. By 2008 he will graduate high school with credit for four AP courses and with two “College Now” courses. Mehadi has dreams of someday working for NASA and is interested in someday becoming a surgeon. Although Mehadi works very hard in school he takes advantage of his free time. On the weekends he enjoys sleeping for long hours, playing video games and hanging out with his friends.
Mehadi was born October 29, 1990 in Bangladesh. When he was eight years old his family moved to New York in pursuit of better economic and educational opportunities. He came to the United States not knowing anyone or any English. “Nothing is impossible in life if you work at it” says Mehadi. With hard work and dedication he was able to learn the language. If Mehadi continues to have the same motivation and drive that he has had so far, he will surely go very far in life.
-- Alberto Aquino

Name: Jean Kapkanoff
Age: 16
High school: Herbert H. Lehman High school

Jean Kapkanoff is proud to say that some of her role models are authors of books she enjoys reading. Her genres of choice is fiction. Stephen King, Christopher Rice, and Anne Rice are amongst her favorite authors. Their books have had a very strong effect on her; after reading them, all she can think is “How did they do that?”, because the writers have found ever new ways to amaze her. The books inspire Jean in her own writings. Besides writing, in her spare time Jean enjoys drawing. What she likes to draw most are eyes. The human eyes shape and expressions are what fascinate her most, says Jean.
-- Malisa Dutson

Prabjot Kaur
Age: 16
Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy

This wondrous child, blessed by her parents, opened her eyes to the world on December 16, 1990. Prabjot Kaur, “Jodie” for short, is a wishful soul who has big dreams of becoming independent and one day occupying a seat at the United Nations as a diplomat. She lives in the borough of the Bronx with her “Crazy Indian Family.” She says her mom is the craziest, which is why she looks to her mom when in need of wisdom and help. She also admires the words of Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and author of the Holocaust memoir “Night.”

Jodie attends Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy, taking several A.P. classes, and is well on her way to realizing her dreams. She enjoys doing things like graffiti art (“Not on private property,” she says, “that I consider vandalism.”), playing basketball, studying history, and tutoring kids in math and English for community service. With her straight forward personality, outspokenness and determined attitude, she is Jodie, the future United Nations diplomat.
Adam Mohan

Name: Rosa Mancia
Age: 17
High School: High School of Fashion Industries

Rosa Mancia is a charismatic 17-year-old girl who likes reading, shopping, and hanging out with her friends. Her mother is from Guatemala and her father from El Salvador. She is not afraid to try new things and is always finding original ways in which to express herself. Rosa’s favorite subject in school is English. Her interest has led her to participate in Lehman College’s College Now program for journalism. She considers herself reliable, independent, and a good listener, all qualities perfect for a career as a journalist. Rosa also depends on her unique personality and open-mindedness to set herself apart from the rest of the world.
-- Elira Brucaj

Name: Eric Pagan, Jr.
Age: 17
School: Aldai Stevenson High School

Eric Pagan, Jr., a Bronx native, took his first breath on July 31st, 1990 at Mt. Sinai Hospital. He was raised by both his parents, Carmen and Eric, Sr., to whom he remains very close. He expects to graduate from Stevenson High in the summer of 2008 and move on to become an accounting major at Hunter College. Eric aspires to own his own company one day. A fan of boxing, he goes to a gym every day and trains at building stamina to excel at this grueling, but thrilling sport. Boxing accounts for one source of Eric’s enthusiastic spirit – his friends and family another: “I can’t be around boring people,” Eric says. “I like to surround myself with people who are hype.”
-- Christine Baerga

Name: Keisha Ramos
Age: 17
School: Herbert H. Lehman High School

Keisha Ramos, a 17-year-old student at Herbert H. Lehman High School, was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on January 9, 1990. After living in Puerto Rico for the first eight years of her life, Keisha’s family decided to move to New York in May of 1998. Although sad about leaving her hometown, Keisha was excited about the move and thought of it as a new adventure. Currently she lives in the Bronx with her mother and two brothers.
Being a person who likes to have fun, Ramos is rarely found at home. If she could, she would be outside all day and night. A passion of hers is dancing. She has taken mambo lessons for the past three years and recently finished up her last year at Starlight dance studio. She still loves to dance, but discontinued her classes solely because of the useless drama with the people there. “The drama was unnecessary and just took all the fun out of dancing,” she says. “I’ll still dance with my friends and have fun with it, but no more mambo classes for me.” Besides dancing, Ramos’ hobbies include reading, writing, listening to music, talking on the phone, hanging out with friends, “the basic girl stuff,” as she puts it.

There are a lot of things that make up Keisha Ramos. All and all, she is a kind person, someone who grows from her bad experiences, and a smart girl who is now focusing on her studies in order to pursue a writing career.
-- Ashley Dreier

Tamesh Sukul
School: Dewitt Clinton high school

Tamesh Sukul is a shy, yet outgoing 16-year-old from the Bronx. Tamesh is entering his senior year at Dewitt Clinton High School, after which he hopes to attend college and pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Some of the activities he enjoys are playing basketball, and hanging out with his friends and family. Tamesh is a car enthusiast and collects Slam and Dub magazines. He has fond memories of visiting his uncle in Guyana a few years ago. His uncle took him all around Guyana and helped enhance

Tamesh’s knowledge of his country of origin. He cherishes this moment because it was his last memory of his uncle, who passed away shortly after. “Anytime life is getting me down, I just think about the time I spent that hot summer in Guyana with my uncle,” said Tamesh.
-- Aquib Ali

Deidre Thompson
Age: 16
School: DeWitt Clinton High School

At first sight, it is easy to stereotype Deidre as the typical honors student. And often this is what people tend to do. Yet Thompson is more than just her "Honor Student" façade. "They see the glasses and the big book-bag and they think I am a goody-two-shoes," Thompson says, refuting the commonly held misconceptions. "They think I go to church every Sunday, but I curse a lot, and I only go to church once a year...on Easter!" Thompson does genuinely enjoy pursuing intellectual endeavors such as mathematics and history, the latter of which will soon be her major at college. Yet whether it be her admiration for the counterculture and activism of the 1960's or her facility with the quadratic formula, it is evident that Thompson's analytical, honest and practical outlook on life is what will make her a viable intellectual asset to today's society.
Shahida Arabi

Amanda Yuan
Age: 16
High School: The Bronx High School of Science
Amanda Yuan lives with her mom, dad, and older sister in Middle Village, Queens. She will be a junior next year and plays on the junior varsity volleyball and junior varsity softball teams at Bronx Science. Amanda is very excited about participating in the College Now Journalism class because it will help her prepare for the honors journalism class that she’ll be taking next year. After high school, Amanda would like to attend either M.I.T. or Cooper Union. She is considering becoming an architect because she excels in both math and art. Even with all this planned out, she says, "I'm still open about my choices."